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Arizona Diamondbacks 2017-18 free agents: J.D. Martinez

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Think it’s probably going to be a case of, “So long, and thanks for all the dingers...” But perhaps not?

MLB: NL Wildcard-Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

J.D. Martinez had a second half for the ages after coming to the D-backs from the Tigers, for three prospects. He may only have been here for two and a half months, but he hit more home-runs in that time than any Arizona hitter has ever done after the All-Star break. And it wasn’t even close: the previous second-half best was 22, set by Luis Gonzalez in 2001. Martinez beat that by seven - and that’s not including the two home-runs he had for Detroit, between the break and the trade here. He hit the most HR after being dealt mid-season by any player in 66 years, since Gus Zernial, hit 33 for the Philadelphia Athletics after a trade in 1951.

With the Diamondbacks, he batted .302/.366/.741 for an OPS of 1.107, and finished third on the team for position player bWAR, even though he didn’t appear until Game #94. Martinez was brought in to address an offensive weakness against left-handed pitching. Mission accomplished there, I’d say, giving Arizona a 1.145 OPS vs. LHP and 18 RBI in only 55 at-bats. Peak Martinez was reached on a glorious Monday night in September at Dodger Stadium, where he became the first Diamondback ever with a four home-run game, including shots in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning. We may not see its like again for a very long time.

Is he needed in 2018?

You know they say, “There are no stupid questions”? Well, that’s a stupid question. Of course Arizona needs him in 2018. The problem is, 29 other teams could probably use J.D. as well, and the bidding war will be ferocious. Yeah, Martinez said all the right things: “It’s definitely something I’d love, I’d be interested in. I’ve loved my time here. The guys are great. The team is young. They’re definitely going to be good for a while... I want to be on a team that’s relevant – a team that’s good, a team that’s in it. I don’t want to be on a team just because (they offer the most money). I want to be on a team that’s got a chance. That’s what’s fun. That’s what you play the game for.”

But I guarantee you, the Diamondbacks will not be the only “relevant” team interested in J.D. Unless something spectacular happens, such as trading Zack Greinke or getting Yasmany Tomas’s contract off our hands, the gap between what Arizona could offer, and what he’ll get elsewhere, is going to be significant. This might not necessarily be a bad thing, however. We looked at the risks, and concluded that a long-term deal for Martinez may be a perilous endeavor for the team which gets him, given how similar players of his age have performed over subsequent seasons. It smacks of “win now”, and we saw how poorly that worked out, after our playoff runs in 2007 and 2011.

However, a report yesterday in the Boston Globe says, “Arizona will do everything within its means to re-sign Martinez and the feeling is he wants to stay there. Those who know him aren’t necessarily sold on Martinez going to a big-market team and being The Man, that he’d be more comfortable in a secondary market.” So we’ll see what happens.

Putting aside any discount, it is fun to speculate as to what kind of contract Martinez might get. In mid-September, with six home-runs still to come from J.D’s bat, estimates ranged “from Hunter Pence’s five-year, $90 million contract to Justin Upton’s six-year, $132.75 million deal. No one expects a deal as long as Jason Heyward’s eight-year, $184 million, but Heyward’s $23 million annual average value could be comparable, one scout said.” Tying the 68-year-old record for September home-runs set by Ralph Kiner likely bumped up the figure. Something along the lines of the deal Yoenis Cespedes got from the Mets - four years, $110 million - would be my guess.

Alternatives

Should we not snare Martinez, and still want to spend the money on an outfielder, below is a list of other possibilities on the free-agent market this winter. As usual, you get the player’s age, and I’ve separated out the right-handers and the switch hitters, as the closest comparison to Martinez.

Right-handers

  • Cody Asche - 27
  • Gregor Blanco - 33
  • Kyle Blanks - 31
  • Peter Bourjos - 30
  • Domonic Brown - 30
  • Lorenzo Cain - 31
  • Daniel Carbonell - 26
  • Allen Craig - 33
  • Rajai Davis - 37
  • Matt den Dekker - 30
  • Chris Dickerson - 35
  • Ramon Flores - 25
  • Craig Gentry - 33
  • Carlos Gomez - 31
  • Franklin Gutierrez - 34
  • Austin Jackson - 30
  • Desmond Jennings - 30
  • Howie Kendrick - 34
  • Rymer Liriano - 26
  • Fernando Martinez - 29
  • Cameron Maybin - 30
  • Mike Morse - 35
  • Ryan Raburn - 36
  • Shane Robinson - 32
  • Travis Snider - 29
  • Drew Stubbs - 33
  • Ichiro Suzuki - 44
  • Scott Van Slyke - 31
  • Casper Wells - 32
  • Jayson Werth - 38
  • Chris Young - 34

Switch-hitters

  • Melky Cabrera - 33
  • Daniel Nava - 34
  • Eric Young Jr. - 32